Amid revelations that he had “performance issues” and mistook emergency drills for real incidents at least twice, the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency employee who sent an alert to the state of Hawaii warning of an imminent ballistic missile strike has been fired. It was originally reported that he had been merely reassigned to a new position within the agency with no access to the emergency alert system.
The Associated Press is reporting that the administrator of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, Vern Miyagi, also resigned; a second worker quit and a third was reportedly suspended.
The employee at fault, a midnight shift supervisor, was fired at the end of last week.
In their investigation of the incident, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) found that “inadequate safeguards” and “human error” were to blame for the missile alert. Alarmingly, the employee believed that the drill was a real incident, and responded accordingly. He sent the warning with no approval from supervisors.
In the course of correcting the warning, it was discovered that Hawaii had no procedure for retracting a mistaken warning and no official corrective message, adding to the time needed for state emergency officials to address the warning sent to radios, televisions, and cellphones. Hawaii Sen. Tulsi Gabbard and others tweeted corrections to the mistaken alert.
Coworkers of the employee heard the word “exercise” said six times, but the now-fired supervisor claims to have not heard the six separate warnings. After activating the statewide alert — which took nearly 40 panicked minutes to correct — coworkers say he “just sat there and seemed confused,” according to Associated Press.
He did not cooperate with the FCC investigation beyond providing a written statement. The unnamed employee had been with the agency for ten years, according to USA Today.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.